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Planting and Care of Street Trees 



Advantages of Municipal Control. That the people of 
Philadelphia desire street trees is shown by the 127,301 
trees now growing in our streets — fully 120,000 of them 
having been planted by individuals. Unfortunately, so 
many of these trees are in bad condition or scattered over 
a large area, that we have few handsome tree-lined avenues. 
This condition exists in all cities where the planting and 
care of the trees is left to the individual pro})erty owners. 
Where any planting is done, one man may plant a poplar, 
his neighbor a plane ; one man may prune his tree closely, 
and the next neglect his entirely, each following his own 
ideas. The result is a haphazard, unattractive arrange- 
ment, which in a city street is incompatible, not only with 
beauty, but even with neatness. The new law, which 
places the street trees under municipal control, is designed 
to correct these defects. A similar law has been in effect 
in !Rew Jersey for some years with such good results, 
that many cities have adopted it. In Pennsylvania, Pitts- 
burgh and Wilkesbarre have already accepted it and are 
securing excellent results. Under its provisions street 
trees can be planted, protected and cared for in a sys- 


tematic way more cheaply and efficiently than would be 
possible by individual effort. The work can be done at 
less cost, because the trees and all other materials are 
purchased in large quantities at low wholesale rates. The 
work can be done more efficiently, because done by trained 
experts, devoting their entire time to the planting and care 
of street trees. 

Conditions Necessary for Successful Tree Growth. 
Handsome street trees will grow only where the roots 
have air, water and good soil. Trees may live for a time 
without one or more of these necessities, but growth will 
be poor and the life of the tree short. In some streets, 
particularly in the suburbs, fertile top-soil exists under 
tne sidewalks, but more often it does not, the ground 
being too sterile to support even a blade of grass. Where 
bad soil exists, a large hole must be dug and the poor 
material replaced with one or two loads of good loam. 
To allow water and air to reach the roots concrete pave- 
ments must be kept several feet away from the base of 
the tree. A continuous grass or gravel planting strip 
from three to six feet wide is the ideal arrangement for 
street trees and should be provided where the best trees 
are desired. 

Kinds of Trees Suitable. Only a few kinds of trees 
will grow satisfactorily in our streets. The Carolina poplar 
and silver maple, the most frequently planted trees in 
Philadelphia, are almost entirely unsuited to the purpose. 
They are Loth short-lived, weedy trees, which require con- 
stant topping to prevent them from becoming dangerous, 
and their soft, brittle wood decays readily. The roots in- 
vade and clog drain pipes and heave sidewalks. 

Good trees for street planting are the oriental plane, 
pin oak, gingko and ^N^orway maple. The plane will thrive, 
where few other trees grow, and it may be pruned into any 















desired shape or size, thus fitting it for either wide or 
narrow streets. The other trees require more moisture and 
larger open spaces about them, but have darker green 
foliage and cause less litter on the pavementj as they do not 
shed their bark, like the plane. In the suburban section 
tulips, sugar maples, scarlet and red oaks, sweet gums, 
ashes and Crimean and silver lindens make excellent street 

Carefully grown nursery trees, with straight stems 
and an abundance of fibrous roots, are alone suitable for 
street planting, as only such trees are likely to thrive and 
make well balanced specimens, and to secure handsome, 
even rows only one kind of tree must be planted on a 
street for a series of blocks. The trees should be planted 
at least twenty-five or thirty feet apart to allow suflScient 
sunlight and air for their proper development. 

Tree Guards. Where a tree stands near a curb, a tree 
guard is required to protect the trunk from horses' teeth. 
Many thousands of the existing trees have already been 
ruined for want of the proper tree guards. A cheap and 
efficient tree guard is made of heavy wire mesh, a good 
but more expensive one of iron rods. 

Allowing a tree guard to remain, after the tree has out- 
grown it, has caused the death of thousands of our trees. 
The expanding trunk in such cases is girdled by the guard 
and the flow of sap cut off. 

Planting hy the Commission. It is the intention of the 
Commission to plant a certain number of streets each 
year with trees, protecting each tree with a guard. Resi- 
dential streets only will be selected, and the wider streets 
first. Where there are existing unsightly, decayed or 
dangerous trees on these streets, they will be removed and 
replaced with new ones. The removing of the condemned 

Tree girdled by iron band 
from old box. 


trees and the planting and protecting of the new ones 
will be charged to the property owners at cost. 

Care of Trees After Planting. For the first two or 
three seasons a newly planted tree jeqiiires much attention. 
Even if transplanted with care, many roots will be cut, and, 
unless those remaining are kept well supplied with water 
during the dry summer months, the tree will die for lack 
of nourishment. A soaking watering once a week should, 
therefore, be given during the dry weather. The ground 
about the tree should also be loosened occasionally to enable 
the air to circulate through the soil. The Commission, ex- 
pects to water, cultivate, prune, spray and care for newly 
planted trees with funds provided by the City Councils. 
The property owners' individual responsibility for the trees 
ends with the planting. The trees will thus, as has been 
said before, become an asset or permanent improvement to 
the property, and one which should increase in value 

Isolated Planting amd Removal. The Commission is 
not prepared at present to plant isolated trees for individual 
property owners. In such cases permits will be issued to 
the property owners with specifications covering the work 
to be done. Similar permits will be granted to those who 
desire to remove dead or undesirable trees themselves, 
rather than wait until the Commission's force is working 
in their section of the City. In all such cases the Commis- 
sion will detail inspectors to superintend the work. 

The Commission's tree census record, which shows the 
location, character and condition of all the existing street 
trees, will enable them to answer promptly all inquiries 
regarding the planting or care of trees. 

Care of Existing Trees. The existing trees will be 
pruned, sprayed, cleaned and put in order by the Commis- 

sion as rapidly as funds will permit. Unfortunately, a con- 
siderable number of the existing trees are in such bad con- 
dition that they will have to be removed. In the replanting 
of the City, Carolina poplars and silver maples will also 
be removed gradually, to permit the systematic planting of 
better trees. To prevent the further injury of existing 
trees each tree will be provided with a tree guard. While 
the law directs that the cost of tree guards and of planting 
and removing trees is to be charged to the property owners, 
the latter will be given the opportunity, if they so desire, of 
making their own arrangement, subject to the approval 
of the Commission, for this work, otherwise the Commis- 
sion will do it at cost. Emergency work will be done by 
the Commission. 

Injurious Insects. Injurious insects are responsible for 
the poor condition of many of the trees. The tussock moth 
caterpillar, imported originally from Europe, has been for 
a generation a scourge to the trees in Philadelphia. Swarm- 
ing over the foliage in the early summer, they devour the 
leaves with amazing rapidity. While this does not kill the 
trees immediately, it weakens them seriously and in time 
causes their death. As these caterpillars remain over winter 
on the trees in the egg state, they may be readily destroyed 
by gathering the conspicuous masses of white eggs. Many 
may also be killed in the summer by spraying with ar- 
senate of lead. Both methods will be used by the Com- 
mission. In the spring, banding the trunks of the trees 
with ''tanglefoot" is helpful, if the trees have first been 
cleaned of all eggs. The plant lice, which attack the 
plane, Norway maple and other trees, sucking out the 
sap from the leaves or twigs and letting it fall as a sticky 
deposit on the pavement, can best be destroyed by spraying 
with a kerosene emulsion or whale oil soap. Eor the 
various scale insects, which attach themselves to the limbs 

of the oak, ash, silver maple, elm and other trees, spraying 
with whale oil soap, when the young are hatching out in 
the spring, is a safe and effective remedy. Winter spray- 
ing with oil solutions gives excellent results, but should 
be attempted only by experts, because of the danger of 
injuring the trees. Lime and sulphur, the familiar spray 
of the farmer, can seldom be used on street trees, owing 
to the danger of defacing adjacent property or the clothing 
of passersby.* ' 

In pursuance of the authority conferred upon them by 
law for the care of the trees and their protection against 
injury the Commissioners have adopted the following: 


For the Protection of Street Trees. 

1. No tree shall be pruned, sprayed, planted in, cut 
down or removed from any highway in the City of Phila- 
delphia without authority from the Commissioners of 
Fairmount Park. 

2. No person shall climb uj.on, cut, break, bark or 
otherwise injure or disturb any tree, tree-guard or support 
thereof on any highway in the City without a iithority from 
said Commissioners. 

3. No person shall fasten any horse or other animal to 
any tree, tree-guard or support thereof, or leave any ani- 
mal fastened or unfastened within reach of any tree, tree- 
guard or support thereof on any highway in the City. 

4. No person shall attach any guy-rope, cable, wire or 

*Much cognate and interesting information will be found in 
the 24th Annual Eeport of the City Parks Association of Phila- 
delphia (1912), and it is recommended that it be r^ad in con- 
junction with this report. 


other fixture to any tree, tree-guard or support thereof on 
any highway in the City. 

5. No person shall fasten or maintain any placard, sign, 
advertisement or other notice on any tree, tree-guard or 
support thereof on any highway in the City. 

6. No person shall deface, injure or remove any copy 
of the Regulations for the Protection of Street Trees or 
other notice posted on any highway or other public place 
in the City by authority of the Commissioners of Fair- 
mount Park. 

7. No pavement of any kind shall be laid within a 
space of three feet by four feet around any street tree, 
and no stone, gravel, qement, lumber or other material 
shall be deposited upon such unpaved area. Such unpaved 
space must be maintained permanently and continuously 
about the base of the trunk of each street tree. 

8. Every person or corporation violating any of the 
foregoing regulations shall pay a fine or penalty of five 
dollars for each and every offense, to be recovered before 
any magistrate of the City of Philadelphia as debts of 
that amount are recoverable, and said fine or penalty, if 
not paid to said magistrate, shall become a lien on the 
real property of the offender and be collectible as pro- 
vided by law. 

These regulations, having been approved by the Select 
-and Common Councils of the City of Philadelphia and 
duly published, have now the force of law. 

Summary of Directions for the Care and Observation 
of Trees. For the convenience of private owners of trees, 
who desire to take intelligent interest in their condition 
and welfare, we subjoin some suggestions as to the direc- 
tions which their care and observation should take. They 



may all be found in more detail in other portions of this 
Report, but are here summarized : 

The opening around the tree should be of standard 
size — four feet by three feet. 

The earth in the opening should not be dry and caked, 
but should be loose enough to admit air and water easily. 
If this ground is covered with grass, the sod should be open 
near to and surrounding the trunk. 

The rain which falls on the sidewalk should in part 
reach the opening and should not be diverted by little 
channels or irregularities of the pavement so that it runs 
over the curb into the gutter. 

The tree should be protected by a roomy tree-guard at 
least six feet high, not embracing it too closely and not 
chafing it when the wind blows. 

The tree should be guarded against borers, which may 
be recognized by little holes in the trunk, at the openings 
of which sawdust appears. They are most common from 
April to November. 

The trunk and branches should be cleared of cocoons, 
egg masses, larvae, caterpillars, beetles, scale, etc. 

The tree should be pruned of dead wood hy an expert, 
supplied by the Commission. Careless or ignorant prun- 
ing puts a tree back for years and may injure it so that 
it will never recover its health. 

The tree should stand straight and erect (perpendicu- 
lar), and this should, of course, be looked after most 
carefully while it is young. If there are scars or cavities, 
these should be cleansed and painted or filled with cement 
to prevent decay. 

The tree should remain green and in full leaf to the 
middle of October. 

Additional nourishment supplied to the tree by digging 
in wood ashes, ground bone or well rotted manure will 



add to its chances of life and will hasten its growth. This 
should be done, however, after consultation with an in- 

If wires or gas leaks or other injurious agencies seem 
to be interfering with the health of a tree, the Commission 
should be notified.* 

To Contractors, Builders and Members of Building, 
Paving, Plumbing and other Trades. 

As the practice of piling or placing materials against 
trees or on or in the open spaces around them is harmful 
to the trees and may result in their death, attention is di- 
rected to the following extracts from the Regulations adop- 
ted by the Commissioners and approved by Councils: 

''No person shall climb upon, cut, break, bark or other- 
wise injure or disturb any tree, tree-guard or support 
thereof on any highway in the City without authority 
from said Commissioners. 

"ISTo person shall attach any guy-rope, cable, wire or 
other fixture to any tree, tree-guard or support thereof 
on any highway in the City. 

"No pavement of any kind shall be laid within a 
space of three feet by four feet around any street tree, 
and no stone, gravel, cement, lumber or other material 
shall be deposited upon such unpaved area. Such un- 
paved space must be maintained permanently and con- 
tinuously about the base of the trunk of each street tree." 

These rules apply to all operations, large or small, in- 
cluding grading and curbing, paving and flagging, water 

*For part of the above summary and also for the following 
directions to contractors and others, acknowledgment should be 
made to the Newark Shade Tree Commission, which has pub- 
lished and circulated much excellent popular literature on this 

I ' 


Rigid wooden guard to protect tree, 
at least six feet hie-h. 


installations, plumbing connections, gas connections, side- 
walk laying and all building procedures. 

Failure, in any of these cases, to comply with the above 
rules will subject the offender to the penalties provided 
by law, to wit: 

"Every person or corporation violating any of the fore- 
going regulations shall pay a fine or penalty of five dol- 
lars for each and every offense, to be recovered before any 
magistrate of the City of Philadelphia as debts of that 
amount are recoverable, and said fine or penalty, if not 
paid to said magistrate, shall become a lien on the real 
property of the offender and be collectible as provided by 

It is obviously a very easy, simple and inexpensive mat- 
ter to safeguard a tree during the operations above men- 
tioned. The placing of an adequate wooden tree-guard 
about it (see opposite page) and the avoidance of putting 
construction material against it, or either in or on the 
open space at its base, will amply meet the indications. 

As the trees on city streets are a valuable asset of 
both the city and its individual citizens, and, as it is not 
permitted to damage either municipal or private property 
during any of the operations enumerated, it is obvious that 
the same laws and city ordinances that are prohibitory 
in the one case are equally so in the other. It is hoped 
and believed that they will be duly observed. 


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